By Wm. Steven Humphrey

Dear Readers:

On this, the Mercury's one-year anniversary, I'd like to congratulate myself on having produced one of the finest newsweeklies in the nation--but I can't. It's become excruciatingly apparent that the Mercury has strayed from being a haven for intelligent and uplifting stories to a thinly veiled porno-rag spilling over with incoherent, drug-induced homoerotica and jokes about monkeys. And to be totally honest, I have no one to blame except my staff of incompetent writers.

As you can probably imagine, we started out with nothing short of grand aspirations. Ahhh, the blissful dreams of the naîve. I remember fondly how the staff would drink, laugh, and engage in heated arguments over how best to overthrow "the man," before tumbling into a sweaty pile on the floor next to the copier and making frantic, clumsy love. The love of the innocent.

And now? We barely touch each other. Those passion-filled arguments about "morals" and "obligation" have turned into long-winded bureaucratic discussions of "the bottom line," and "Who forgot to rinse out the coffee cup?" The dream of a better newspaper--a better tomorrow--lies trampled on the office floor next to Julianne Shepherd's cigarette butts and the curiously colored stains left over from our staff's all-night lovemaking sessions. The stains of innocence.

However! While I have personally given up on ever trying to make a success out of this revolting tabloid, I still believe the inherent braininess of our readership can ultimately save the day. And so, I am pleased to announce the "Let Me Tell You How to Run Your Business!" Essay Contest! Here's how it works: Send us an essay describing, in 300 words or less, how to run our business--including who to fire, what to add, advice on our preponderance of porn...any tips that will help save the rotting garbage heap that is the Mercury (if indeed it is worth saving--which I sincerely doubt). The best essays will be printed in an upcoming special edition of the letters section, and the winner will receive (as always) a box of light bulbs and 25 dollars CASH.

Send your essay to "Let Me Tell You How to Run Your Business!" c/o Portland Mercury, 1524 NW 23rd Ave, Suite 2, Portland, OR, 97210. The deadline is Monday, June 11, so you better get crackin'! Only YOU can save the Mercury, and permanently remove the stains of neglected idealism from our paper! (And if you have any ideas about removing the stains from our carpet, that would be nice, too.)


Wm. Steven Humphrey